News / Europe

Turkey Crisis Undermines Erdogan's EU Meeting

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
Dorian Jones
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit this week to Brussels is being touted as an important step in putting the country's membership bid back on track. But the visit is being overshadowed by a growing political crisis in Turkey. A month-old corruption investigation led by a group of Turkish prosecutors has targeted dozens of Erdogan's allies. The prime minister says the wide-ranging probe - in which dozens of his allies were arrested and more than 20 charged with money laundering, bribery and zoning law infractions-is a foreign-backed "judicial coup."

Erdogan's first visit to European Union's capital in five years was to have signaled fresh momentum in ties after the EU in November agreed to reopen membership negotiations following a three-year freeze.

But, diplomatic columnist Kadri Gursel of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and Al Monitor website warned Erdogan could face a difficult visit following what many call a purge of the police and judiciary. 

"He is going there as a prime minister whose legitimacy is impaired. He is under heavy scrutiny. He is under heavy criticism, because this recent intervention to the justice. There is a strong raising of concerns because of the fact Turkey is losing its character of state of law," said Gursel.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet with leading members of the EU Commission and European Parliament. The EU Commission has voiced concern that the Turkish government's proposed legal reforms threaten the separation of powers, a key membership requirement. But Erdogan dismissed such concerns.

"It's nobody's job to make a statement about Turkey's move over judicial reform," he said. "I'm sorry but I won't buy statements like 'these...we know how to read and write," he said.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum said how Erdogan reacted to the expected criticism could determine the country's future relations with the EU.

"Last year’s warming up may end abruptly this Tuesday. The ball is in the prime minister’s field. He will decide whether to back down or whether he will push for it, which would mean a major crisis with the EU because it would mean Turkey is definitely regressing not progressing any more," said Aktar.

With the Turkish public's support for its EU bid at record lows, a showdown with Brussels, observers claim, could play well with his grassroots base. This is an important consideration with key local elections due to be held in March followed by presidential polls later in the summer and national elections the following year. 

But diplomatic columnist Gursel warned that the prime minister could pay a high price for any showdown with Brussels.

"If this prime minister resorts to EU bashing as a last option, to please his constituency, this will absolutely destroy what it is left of Turkey’s image and legitimacy. And will [take] its own toll on the economy itself. Turkey needs to be predictable," he said.

The current political instability has already hit the financial markets hard with the Turkish currency hitting record lows. Observers warn a diplomatic crisis with the EU will do little inspire faith of international investors.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid